Pearl Jam Gigaton: Two Years in Retrograde
On March 27, 2020, the world was in the earliest stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of worrying about whether people were wearing masks in public, we were more concerned with how much time we should spend washing our hands. There was a lot more to worry about than new music, but at the very least, this day allowed us to put the pandemic stuff on the backburner, and we received Pearl Jam’s eleventh studio album, Gigaton.
It was their first record in seven years, a wait that for most fans felt like an eternity. They had been off the road since 2018, which was the longest delay in between Pearl Jam shows in band history, so the demand was at an all time high. New music, a new tour, new merchandise; whatever it was, the fans were eager to hop on board with. That was all supposed to happen, but the longest tour delay in band history had to extend another year and a half. When you remember it this way, the night before the album was set to drop, the band was set to take the stage at the historic Apollo Theater in Harlem. The following day was intended for a show in Baltimore that has since been canceled. At the very least, we all had the music to attach to, with some songs becoming unintentional anthems for the time period.
Sitting here two years later, it’s easy to say that the process to get to where we are now has been a turbulent one. But now we sit in a unique position where we’ve gotten to witness a small sample of the songs live, and we’ve also had enough time with the album to identify which ones we relate with and enjoy the most. There have been a few examples in the past of when songs were played live either pre-release or went through a short adjustment period following album release to let the fans marinate on them. The festival shows from last year gave us a preview of that aspect, and now, since we’re finally ready to head out on this tour, the Gigaton era can officially begin properly.
What we’ve done here for this feature is we set out to poll who we believe to be the most intelligent and articulate fans in this community (yes, it’s the podcast followers, you may call out our bias accordingly) to see after two years where they all sit with this record. Did they enjoy it during its initial release? Did the live performances help people attach to them? Did perhaps songs fall out of favor during this time?
Let’s go track by track on the record, where the listeners have rated each song on the scale of 1-10, and see where the true appreciation lies. We’ll be quoting many of our participants, but most importantly, we want to give a shout out to our friend Mark Kirby who had some interesting insight featuring his positive and negative thoughts on each track. We’re going to present his comments as “Mark’s Bark” and see if this is a gag that can stick around for a while.
Gigaton Track-by-Track Fan Ratings
Who Ever Said
Average Fan Rating: 8.14
- Dylan Sumpter – 8 for sure. It is very much a ‘We’re Back!’ moment. It has nice movement throughout. Seems like it would be a breeze to play live, Mike bouncing around. Wish they’d expound on that last riff.
- Brad Broders – 10. Maybe my favorite middle Eddie vocal bridge in any Pearl Jam song! If that’s a hot take I stand by it!
- Justin Sonnicksen – 6.5. Good song but not an iconic opener like Brain Of J., Go, or Life Wasted
- Mark’s Bark – I give it about a 4.2. A little too punk-pop for me.
The overall consensus for the opening track doesn’t really surprise me. I find it interesting that there’s been enough time for people to comment on where it stands within the pantheon of openers. Something pretty damn special would need to come along in order to knock Go, Last Exit and Brain Of J. from their perch at the top of that list, but I’m comfortable with stating that Who Ever Said is among the second tier of openers. Right there with Breakerfall, Getaway and Sometimes. But as the conversation will continue on here, the song happens to begin the album’s greatest fault for better or worse – songs that are entirely too lyric heavy.
Average Fan Rating: 7.27
- Aureliean Moureaux – 6, I love the solo but the song is kind of forgettable for me. Definitely a song that will disappear after the Gigaton cycle.
- Eddie Quintana – 7. Really loved it when it came out, but compared to the album, there are other songs I would want to listen to. Mike’s solo is really good. “And love notwithstanding, we are each of us fucked.” Great line.
- Derek Laub – 9. It played very well at Ohana and I think it should have been the album opener. Who Ever Said makes more sense to me toward the end.
- Mark’s Bark – I give it a 3.8. Way too wordy. Sort of one note the entire way.
When the song was released as a single shortly after the release of Dance Of The Clairvoyants, I remember exactly what I was doing that day. My wife was undergoing a procedure, so I had a lot of time to sit around in the waiting room. I must’ve listened to the song 26 times during that wait. Why? It wasn’t because I was in love with it. It’s because I was seeing the overwhelmingly positive reaction to this song. There were people who were disappointed by the experimental element of DotC that were thrilled that SBWM brought them back to a more familiar type of Pearl Jam. I didn’t hear that at all. I kept listening because I was, as the lyrics say, “searching for a feel.” I couldn’t find it. It felt way too much like the bubbly radio rock songs that Backspacer was littered with, and my hope for the record was that they’d stray from that mindset. As the album came and went and having seen it at Sea.Hear.Now, it grew on me a little bit. I enjoy the transition between the first and second tracks, and at the very least, the live version has some great interactive pieces. But overall it fits in near the bottom half of songs that I enjoy from this record.
Dance Of The Clairvoyants
Average Fan Rating: 8.59
- Jonathan Doxator – 9.75, not a 10, but damn close. Love the Talking Heads vibe and love that they went with a different vibe this late in their game.
- Heather Rose – It had to grow on me, but now I love it. I love that Eddie is into the supernatural. He mentions it in so many songs.
- Jeff Zieba – At the beginning, minus 10. Hated that disco-new-wave-Depeche Mode feeling. After a few repeats, understanding and paying attention to the lyrics, 9.5 out of 10. Would have been 10 with more guitar.
- Mark’s Bark – 2. One of the worst songs in their catalog.
Geez Mark! Harsh to put it down in the doldrums with Johnny Guitar and Ole. But it’s good to respect other perspectives and not have it ruin your own. I was so intrigued with DotC when it first came out, not just because of the dance-rock, Talking Heads-inspired factor, but because the song has so many layers to it production wise. It’s been two years and I still can’t get over that triple-layered vocal track ending. At this stage in the game, Pearl Jam has absolutely nothing to prove to anyone. They’ve made it. They have so much respect as the elder statesmen of rock‘n’roll that if they wanted to try something outside of their wheelhouse, it needs to be encouraged. People took their opportunity to bash them when they decided to try something different releasing No Code, and in the end, they were all wrong. The more outside the box efforts they attempt, the more we get to understand their influences and how they’ve evolved as composers.
Average Fan Rating: 9.27
- Brett Hanson – It’s a definite banger and I bet it rips live. However, it’s got some of the coolest production on the album, I love the piano breakdowns before the guitar solo rips. I give it a 9.5/10 only because he mentions Trump by name, that mofo shouldn’t be mentioned, even to scorn him.
- Bryan Cohen – There’s only two 10s on this album and this is one of them, mostly because of the outro solo and Jeff’s redonk bass line.
- Jeff Huckaby – 10. Can’t wait to hear it live in Nashville in September!!!!
- Mark’s Bark – Definitely one of the better songs on Gigaton. But still a silly song with no real depth. I would give it a 5.7.
This is my favorite studio album song since Inside Job. It’s everything that you could ever want from a pure rock‘n’roll standpoint. An electric riff that pulls you in from the very beginning, that without fail, automatically makes you bang your head to the rhythm every time. At the time of release, the idea of it being political in nature was intended to be an outlet of everything that was culminating at the time, but even now when those factors from albums such as Riot Act or Pearl Jam perhaps don’t age well with time, intent doesn’t make a difference on this song. Explosive solos from both Mike and Stone need to be listened to at full blast while Matt Cameron has a torrid percussive pounding that’s perhaps more reminiscent of his time in Soundgarden than Pearl Jam. I already knew how much I loved the song back in 2020, but after hearing this live and getting the full experience of how incredible a performance it is, I now hold this song in extremely high regard in terms of their catalog. Tell me if this sounds out of place – Porch, Go, Rearviewmirror, Corduroy, Hail, Hail, Quick Escape. It’s already among the best.
Average Fan Rating: 6.1
- Eric Stevenson Gonzalez – One of my favs on the record, probably one of the strongest of songs that fly under the radar. If crowds agree, it could get a lot of stage time filling the let’s-catch-our-breath slots. 9/10
- Brooke Krause – I appreciate this song after a tough year – it’s affirming. 6.
- Eddie Quintana – 7.5. If you asked me when the album came out, it was at one point my favorite, solid 9 out of 10. Now, I like it but it has definitely moved down in my overall ranking.
- Mark’s Bark – One of the best songs on the album. I love when Pearl Jam plays songs about being alone and cherishing that time. I wish it had that one moment/line that elevates the song…sort of like “I Will Scream My Lungs Out Till It Fills This Room.” Such a well thought out and wonderfully composed song. 8.8/10.
At first listen, I really liked the way that this song sounded. It’s a Jeff Ament song, so there are going to be elements that are a little out there and separate it from the rest of the band’s writing style. But after time you get accustomed to everything on the album and take it in piece by piece, and that’s where Alright didn’t quite stack up against the top guns on the record. It’s a great song for mid-album balance transitioning into the grandiose Seven O’Clock, but like with many of these songs, it becomes a powerful force dominating the live stage. This came out of left field. I never expected for this to be one of the breakouts from this record. A lot of people had it penciled in as an opener, and for all we know it still could be, but when performed for the only time during the first Ohana show, I think many of us were quickly able to see this song in a new light. This ranking would be interesting to go back and create again after everyone has experienced these live to see whether the overall impact of it has changed more minds.
Average Fan Rating: 6.68
- Andrew Kirk – Best song on album in my opinion. Tremendous lyrics.
- Danielle Tatlow – 5. Musically, it’s fine. Lyrics wise, it’s fine. But they don’t fit structurally. Too many words in too small of space.
- CR Warne – 9.5/10. Loved this song right off the bat. Cool atmospherics in the intro, unexpected and catchy Springsteen-like verse, a hint of ‘70s prog in the chorus and an outro that has some of Ed’s catchiest vocal melodies, which for some reason remind me of Into The Wild.
- Mark’s Bark – Probably one of my least favorite songs on the album. I absolutely love the message of the song. But the song seems to be all over the place. And like most songs on the album it is simply way too wordy for me. Now it does have one of my favorite all-time PJ stanzas:
What’s to be done
Carve a path for rivers reign
Much to be done
Oceans rising with the waves
That is simply brilliant. But the rest of the song is a mess. 3.4/10.
Honestly, I’m floored by the results of this one. Initially, I seem to remember it being more appreciated than not. Going back to 2020 and the political situation we were in at the time, perhaps this could be considered as more befitting for then. I even had a moment where prior to the festival shows, I thought this one wasn’t going to work anymore due to the content. However, I think you have to put Mr. Sitting Bullshit on the backside of the equation here since he is less relevant now than he was two years ago.
I look at the song from a new perspective. The lyrics in there suggested that there was much to be done in the wake of four years of derailed progress and discrimination that agonized most of our daily lives. Strangely enough, it had nothing to do with the COVID-19 pandemic, obviously, although I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say that these lyrics can still apply to where we’re at with this. We have work to do, we have to look out for one another no matter the cost and it’s all a part of the healing process.
There are going to be people in power that will attempt to deflect away from the important matters crucial to overcoming what we’re dealing with (this also can apply to Ukraine), but if there is no continued resistance then who’s to say that these lyrics won’t be relevant again in another two years if all goes downhill again? I fully understand that this is a personal perspective, but from the writer of the lyrics himself, it should come as a surprise to no one that he understands that this song’s meaning is still relatable.
When they performed this, it was played with the same heart and passion that should’ve been expected had nothing gone awry in 2020. As most of the lesser rated responses would note, the song may be a bit wordy, but that depends on your perspective. Are you reading song lyrics, or are you reading a poetic statement?
Average Fan Rating: 6.76
- Gabe Spece – 6. Just can’t quite get into this one. All of EV’s worst impulses. Don’t hate the live versions I’ve heard but feel that this constantly gets more praise than the other (better) mid-album rocker Take The Long Way.
- David James – 8. I love it. I actually think the outro is a nice change of pace and works really well. Solid, fun song.
- Patrick Boegel – When this first came out I was a bit meh. Got into it with each listen. It crushed live. 8.
- Mark’s Bark – I really enjoy this song. Might be the only song on the album where there can be a nice prolonged guitar part, i.e. Porch or RVM. I really like the tempo changes in the song. I hope they increase the tempo when playing the song live. This is one of three/four songs from Gigaton that will stand the test of time. 9/10.
I know it’s only by tenths of a point, but I am shocked that Never Destination was ranked higher than Seven O’Clock. The mathematical reason for this is due to the latter having extremely high ratings in the 9’s or 10’s or low ones down in the 5’s and 4’s. Never Destination remained pretty consistent around the 6-7 range. This one to me is the one where it feels lyrically a bit too much. While Seven’s lengthy lyrics have more of a melodic pace, and feature touchstone lyrics that you could print in a frame and sell on Etsy, Never Destination at times can feel as though it’s the dad-Ed-era version of Lukin.
On both studio and live renditions, it’s a bit challenging to follow along to. The best songs are usually ones that you can sing in your head clearly during times when you aren’t listening. If I happen to get this one stuck in my head, repetitive words seem to float around the verses until I can finally make my way to the “knock me off the shelf” line, which seems to be one of the only things that I’ve retained. Not to say that I don’t enjoy hearing it, but this is what sets it away from the upper tier material on this record. I believe I remember Ed using a lyric sheet when singing this live last year, not that that’s a bad thing, but it doesn’t seem like that will bode well for the live future of this song.
One more interesting thing to note, the Tom Petty connection that was worked in here (Listen To Her Heart) was something Vedder decided to go back to for his Earthling record for the song Long Way. Speaking of Long Way, we may as well go ahead and take it now…
Take The Long Way
Average Fan Rating: 6.88
- Eric Steveson Gonzalez – A dash of Matt Cameron always adds a special layer to an album. In that other band he had, too. 8/10
- Logan Greenwood – 8! Knew it was Matt the second I heard it.
- Paul T. Bevis – Still waiting for Jeff’s bass line to be recorded for this one…
- Mark’s Bark – This is just a bad song. It is like someone did a mash-up of Air Supply and Blink-182. The lyrics are solid. The music is solid. However the two just don’t mix well together. Excellent guitar solo and drumming. But man it is hard to listen to. 2.2/10
Wow, Mark’s Bark sure has some bite on it…so, Take The Long Way to me at first felt a bit like filler. Matt Cameron songs can tend to get a little too technical and have many quick changes that make it tough to keep up with live. I’m thinking of Evacuation and Get Right here too. When I first heard it on the record, it seemed to me like this would be kind of the outlier when it came to playing it live. That maybe, like Evacuation in the past, they’d have to abort it mid-way through. Maybe just like Get Right, it wouldn’t make it out of this era. But after hearing it live I became sold on it.
Matt’s an absolute machine and crushes this live. It will never become a crowd favorite, but this is a perfect tempo changer to follow an Even Flow or an Immortality in the middle of the set to build you to a bigger moment. That rating though? Utterly ridiculous that this beats Seven O’Clock as well. To be transparent, Seven O’Clock had about two dozen more votes than the other two songs, so they aren’t quite weighted in the same way.
Average Fan Rating: 6.33
- Hillary Wood – I’m not sure. It’s a fun song to interpret but not to listen to. I’d say 3 or 4 from me.
- Curtis Hames – 8.5, would be 9.5 if Stone sang it.
- Luke Dalley – Up there with Evacuation as the worst of all time.
- Mark’s Bark – The 2nd best song on Gigaton. So weird to think that Stone was writing this song in 2018 before COVID. By far the best Stone song there is. Lyrically it is a masterpiece. Musically it is very solid. Wish it had a slower beat and more haunting music to match the darkness of the lyrics. The song can take the listener into the hospital room and the difficulty of caring for a parent and having to make very hard decisions. Brilliant song. 9.5/10
This is without a doubt the most controversial song from the record. Just about everyone has a take on it. In some people’s eyes, they see the brilliance in Stone’s songwriting ability and can appreciate the dark lyrical content. For others? It’s not the Pearl Jam that they’re most accustomed to, so they disavow it. There was a running joke between our podcast listeners shortly after the album came out about their take on the song. You were clearly #TeamBuckleUp, or you wished death upon it. I prefer to be on #TeamBuckleUp. It’s nowhere near my favorite from the record, but that little bounce in the melody has me going every time. Whether some want to admit it or not, it does have a place here in the Pearl Jam universe. Another one that maybe hearing it live will have to change some people’s opinions, but some folks seem pretty dead set on hating this for life.
Comes Then Goes
Average Fan Rating: 7.71
- Vicky Kotrikla – 10!!! A very powerful ballad for the friendship of Eddie and Chris!
- Patrick Boegel – Doesn’t fit the album at all. A good song but it could have easily been on an Ed project, a B-side or a holiday single. It’s part of where Gigaton gets derailed. 5.
- Matt Behan – Easy 10. I believe Josh Evans states this is the 1st or 2nd take by EV.
- Mark’s Bark – Love this song. Definitely in the top 5 best songs on the album. And it is interesting that the slower tempo songs at the end of Gigaton is what makes the album palatable. The last 4 songs are arguably the best closing quartet since Ten. But Comes Then Goes takes me back to my childhood in Southeastern KY in regards to the singing. The background vocals are just slightly behind Eddie. And that is how the church choir sang church songs in Appalachia. I can easily see some old time pickers playing this song and three or four people singing the lyrics on the front porch. Excellent composition and lyrics. 8.8/10
Once again, another song that has a bit of a surprising ranking. There’s nothing particularly against solo Eddie on Pearl Jam records before, it’s happened a few times now and the fact is that Ed runs the show, so if he feels it’s necessary then it’s going to make it regardless of what anyone else thinks. But this one has some faults within its composition. For starters, it’s way too long. Not just for a solo song, but for any deep cut on a record that you’re trying to enjoy in full. If it dropped a few verses, then I think we would be talking about a pretty solid acoustic track close to being on par with his Into The Wild material.
The sentiment is nice, having been written about he and Cornell’s friendship, and maybe gives a bit of insight as to where their friendship was in the later stages of life before he passed. But again, this is much higher than I ever would’ve expected it to be, but that’s part of the amazing thing here is that everyone is coming from all different schools of thought and are opening each other’s eyes into a new perspective. This is what I love about Pearl Jam the most! And guess what? We can do it with respect instead of insulting people for thinking a certain way.
Average Fan Rating: 7.36
- Shawn Stuart – With headphones, this song is the one that made me realize how awesome it was. 8.7
- Andy Famulare – 10. I love it. Might be the prettiest song the band has ever done.
- Brooke Krause – It sounds like an Earthling song to me. 7.
- Mark’s Bark – Another song in the top 5 of Gigaton. Has the potential to be a really great song. The ending sort of ruins the song for me. If PJ can fix the ending when played live then it can be awesome. Again, I love the theme of the song. The music and lyrics mesh well together unlike some other songs on the album. 7.3/10 for me. Love this stanza:
Hear the sound
In the distance, now
Could be thunder
Or a crowd
What’s great about Retrograde right now is that we have exactly one version to go off of, which means we haven’t scratched the surface of its capability. It’s one of these McCready songs where he builds up the anticipation, his guitar sort of seeping through during those pre-verses giving you a taste of how heavy this song truly is. The production of the song gives the guitars a crisp and clean sound, letting them ring out ever so smoothly. It guides you through until the end of the song where that build-up finally comes crashing down. Ed’s vocals are heard in the distance along with some added flair of bustling wind, a climate that may remind you of the imagery on the album’s cover. And then the drums drive this all the way home, very reminiscent of how Parting Ways from Binaural gets heavier and heavier before finally fading out. To channel that live is a daunting task, but as hints present during the first performance, it may absolutely have the power to take over a set.
Average Fan Rating: 7.38
- Bradley Piasecki – 6.5. It’s a good song, but it hasn’t “hit” me yet. It could end up being my favorite in a year or so. But for the time being, 6.5.
- Hillary Wood – 10 out of 10 no question. Lyrically poignant and perfect instrumentals. Truly a beautiful song.
- Olan Samuelle – 8, heard it for the first time at Ed’s solo show in Madrid 2019. Was chilling. With the whole band arrangements it’s warmer, if that makes any sense. Great album closer.
- Mark’s Bark – A perfect song. Lyrics and music are a match made in heaven. The imagery is amazing. The song takes you on a journey for sure. And the song can take on so many meanings. It is really such an uplifting song. Obviously the song is about the journey of an immigrant. But it can also take on the meaning of trying to reach a goal in life and how there are people/forces trying to keep you down and keep you from realizing your dream. “Can’t Hold Me Down.” Four powerful words for sure. I truly believe this song will go down as a Pearl Jam classic. Perfect way to end Gigaton. The last 4 songs make the album. The first 8 are a complete mess as a group. 10/10.
Mark ending the album off with his most positive take of the bunch! Took a while to build to it, but there’s nothing wrong with being a fan of side B material. River Cross was most certainly a powerful, anthemic way to end the album on first listen. It’s a culmination of the message that the record is sending — don’t give up hope, search for light, preserve our world. The pantheon of album closers are just as important as the openers are. It’s supposed to ask you the question, what are you left with?
One of the best examples is All Or None off of Riot Act. During a point in time where the band was going through their challenges just as much as the world was, after many angry and sorrowful songs, the record ends on a more somber note. The struggle of the album’s themes culminates at this point, with the song establishing an admission of helplessness and concession by the state of affairs that lay in front of them. Gigaton as a whole presents our world in turmoil, trying to find an answer as to how we can help be the change we seek. That answer materializes in River Cross with a simple message, don’t stop fighting for what you believe in.
Rating the Gigaton Album as a Whole
Average Fan Rating: 8.18
As we finish out our track by track ratings, let’s finally take a look at the results of how our community believes the album has grown in the midst of a worldwide pandemic and only four shows to speak of:
I was one of the (seemingly) few that loved it from the get-go. DotC was certainly unexpected, but it quickly grew on me, with the “live” webcast version particularly speaking to me – I adore the layering and texture of that song, especially the “spirit” vocals at the end. “Who Ever Said” was a fast favorite for me, but has at times yielded (ha) to Long Way, Quick Escape, and others as the months have gone by. I was fortunate enough to attend Ohana Encore and hear many of these live – they absolutely work in that setting, and I’m looking forward to hearing them be refined over time.
Definitely marks a stock up. Also the start of a new “album group,” as I like to call it, and which at this stage in the game is very, very good news. The live versions we know are just opening salvos, but they’ve been solid and promising for the upcoming tours.
I was definitely not sold when I first heard it. After a few times through, it was growing on me. The thing I do like about the album version is that it sounds “big”. After hearing the live versions, I like it a lot more.
I love the anticipation of a new album, I love that DotC was the first single. reminded me of when they released Who You Are. Because this is who they are, and here’s a glimpse of what to come. We were shut down and the album leaked shortly thereafter. It was a great distraction that kept me diving back in – and now the album is solidified for me as one that was the soundtrack of how quickly life can change – No Code and Yield both have the same profound affect on me for multiple reasons and every album also is the soundtrack to a portion of my life. Gigaton just hits a bit different as the emotions were those I’ve (and most of us I’d say) have never experienced. Alright in particular strikes a chord, as does the soundscape of Retrograde. Who Ever Said and Quick Escape are instant classics that could’ve been in their catalog for the past 30 years if you ask me. Solid fucking album, great soundtrack for me personally when shit hit the fan two years ago in the world.
The highest compliment I can give is that two of the songs are now in my top ten (Retrograde and Who Ever Said). I’d even say Retrograde is just behind Present Tense as my favourite song. It’s a great album and every song performed live back in Sept/Oct I think sounds excellent. Ironically, the only song I don’t care for is Comes Then Goes. It’s an album that can’t be separated from the time it was released. It’s quite a sad listen in many ways but of no fault of the album.
I’ve always felt that with Pearl Jam, live begins to reassemble what album tracks feel like. While it took a lot longer to get there it was beginning to sort itself out with the four shows in the fall. I don’t feel like Pearl Jam hit on too much undiscovered territory for them with the sound of Gigaton (outside of Dance). But they did make the music stand out as not simply rehashing, it was at least vibrant and on a sound path. How they truly approach the songs live will tell if this is something they believe in, like Pearl Jam, when they would play a fair chunk every night, or if it’s going to be a window decoration of a mosaic. Particularly songs like Who Ever Said and River Cross, especially the latter. If that song gets buried or somewhat half assed reworked (especially lyrically), the sentiment and its meaning will become trivial and base. Basically, do we need to keep on Rockin’ in the Free World another 40-50 times? Challenge the fans to absorb and at least reflect and discuss the content of the new songs by playing them in “sacred spots”.
Gigaton was something that I had on repeat for at least 4-5 months in 2020. 1-10 ranking, I would have to say 8.5. In 2020, early favorites were Who Ever Said, Quick Escape, Alright, Seven O’Clock and Retrograde. In 2022, I can proudly say that my favorites from the record are Who Ever Said, Quick Escape and Retrograde, with Seven O’Clock and Take the Long Way up there. When I listen to the whole album front to back, Who Ever Said, Superblood Wolfmoon, Dance of the Clairvoyants, Quick Escape, Alright, and Seven O’Clock, all flow really well together.
The “problems” (if you can call them that) start in the second half of the album. Never Destination is an interesting song that has some great lyrics and a good solo by Mike. The last coda/verse/bridge/outro thing sorta derails the song for me. Take the Long Way is in my top 3 on side B. If Never Destination had a good solo by Mike, this is a KILLER solo. I love the lyrics and the meaning of the song. This outro, unlike ND, actually works for me. Buckle Up, in 2020, was one that I got attached to for some reason. Ever since then it’s still a song that I like, but it has gone down in my song ranking since 2020. Comes Then Goes is interesting. I like the song and I love the meaning, but I just don’t think it should have been on the album. Get it Back could have fit here in my opinion, but it kinda is a little too long and brings the album to a halt. Retrograde is my personal favorite from side B. I love the song’s lyrics and meaning, the build up all to the big crescendo with that atmospheric sound that I think Pearl Jam does really well. River Cross was one that in 2020 I didn’t really get yet. In 2022, I love that this is the album closer and is a song that I respect. I don’t know if I like it as much as others do, but I know why it’s loved. While I still think Riot Act, Yield, and Backspacer are personal favorites of mine, Gigaton is definitely in the top half of my list of albums, easily in the top 6. I think Pearl Jam hit a triple at the very least.
Gigaton is the album that jump started my love for PJ. Because I had been listening to top 40 for most of my life, DotC was the perfect “gateway drug” into Pearl Jam. It’s got a poppy groove but still has incredibly poignant lyrics, lyrics that were basically written for a bunch of people locked in their houses for a year. Now that I’ve taken the deep dive into PJ albums, it’s not my favorite (No Code) but it’s in the top three for sure. Especially the songs I saw live at Ohana Encore.
Initially I really enjoyed the album. It was creative and brave. I like when bands venture out of their comfort zone and experiment with a new sound and push their artistic limits. Some of my favorite songs were: Superblood Wolfmoon, Buckle Up, River Cross, Alright, and Retrograde. Now I’ve done a complete 180 on the album. I simply cannot stand it. I find myself saying….shut the hell up. The album is very wordy and lazy. The songs that I actually like and currently listen to are: Buckle Up, Retrograde, and River Cross. I believe River Cross is one of the finest songs they have ever written. I can transport myself to the journey a person makes. And I LOVE that. I cannot wait to hear that song live.
Gigaton Track-by-Track Rankings
The consensus seems to be that this was one of Pearl Jam’s best efforts in the last handful of years. Like most Pearl Jam records, there’s something on it for everyone to love. Most importantly, what separates a good Pearl Jam album from a great one is the storytelling sprinkled throughout. That’s something that may have been missing from their last two efforts, but as the band has proven before, they do their best with their backs against the wall. They had to react to an entirely different world than the one in which they resided during Lightning Bolt. They could’ve easily slid back into the same attitude and resentment that was present during both Riot Act and Pearl Jam, but they’ve been doing this for long enough to know not to fall back into a past approach. They faced the challenges laid out ahead of them with positive frustration, resistance, and an attempt to spread the word of hope to anyone who’s willing to listen.
- Quick Escape – 9.27
- Dance Of The Clairvoyants – 8.59
- Who Ever Said – 8.14
- Comes Then Goes – 7.71
- River Cross – 7.38
- Retrograde – 7.36
- Superblood Wolfmoon – 7.27
- Take The Long Way – 6.88
- Never Destination – 6.76
- Seven O’Clock – 6.68
- Buckle Up – 6.33
- Alright – 6.1